UNH associate professor Julia Rodriguez arrived to her child’s day care on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 to find several parents talking about planes hitting the World Trade Centers. Immediately, Rodriguez had a bad feeling. Her brother worked in World Trade Tower One.
She rushed home, listening to National Public Radio on her way. The phone lines were jammed and she couldn’t get a hold of her parents or brother. When Rodriguez finally heard back from her mother, all her mother knew was that Gregory Rodriguez, an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, had left a voicemail telling her there was an accident at work, he was okay and that to tell his wife that he loved her. To this day they do not know what the accident was and what exactly happened to him. But Julia and her family would later find out that Gregory was one of 2,969 victims to die that day from the Al-Qaeda attack.
Every year, Julia’s parents would have some type of memoriam for their dead son and Julia usually travels to New York to join them. She has never gone to any of the memorials that have been made and instead keeps her mourning private. Years later, a program was set up to send the families of the victims down to Guantanamo Bay to see the pretrial proceedings of the alleged perpetrators. The Office of Military Commissions invited Julia and her mother down just a few months ago.
Guantanamo Bay has been a United States military base for more than a century. After the Spanish-American War, the US took over many nations either directly or indirectly, and after the Cuban revolution in 1951, Guantanamo was still held by the U.S. After Sept. 11, a prison camp was set up there and the alleged perpetrators of Sept. 11 and other alleged terrorists were held and interrogated for years. Many have been found not guilty or completely innocent, others are still there awaiting trial or are in the middle of trials. Dozens have been deemed appropriate for release. Julia, her mother, and about eight other members of different families were allowed to view the trials from behind glass.
“After Sept. 11, the Bush administration had completely mishandled the situation. I knew that the people who had murdered my brother were criminals, but I wanted the government to bring them real justice,” Julia said. “There should have been national cooperation to bring them to justice. My parents and family felt the same way.”
Julia feels the Obama administration inherited a tough situation and that moving the Sept. 11 Five, the alleged masterminds behind the attack, is highly unlikely. If convicted they will face the death penalty. Julia’s problem is how the U.S is carrying out the prosecution and the detainment of the prisoners.
Julia said, “What’s the law? We should do the law. We should prosecute them in the United States. But that’s not going to happen for the Sept. 11 Five. The law should be upheld. After Sept. 11 we abandoned a lot of our principles.”
It is now almost 15 years later since the terrorist attack in which almost 3,000 Americans lost their lives. Since then, the Bush administration went into two wars, thousands have died, and trillions of dollars have been spent, and numbers of war crimes were committed. The Middle East is still enmeshed in many wars and factions leaving much of that region in chaos. The Obama administration has done little to reverse that course. The justice and law that Julia and thousands of others are looking for is still pending.